The Shangri-Las

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Leader of the PackLeader of the Pack (1965)

A singles-and-padding affair in the strictest sense, where nothing (except perhaps “It’s Easier to Cry”‘s off-key sweetness) beyond “Great Big Kiss”, “Remember”, and the title track is worth returning for. And to be sure, the three tracks are all varying degrees of brilliant that deserve their praise in dedicated reviews; I just wish I wasn’t so mixed on the group’s voices. I can handle their shrillness on the singles, but when they move to more conventionally girl group material, their singing is nowhere near as irresistible as, say, The Marvelettes’. Then there’s the back half, part unconvincing (crowd noises) and part otherwise (abominable sound quality) in its masquerade as a live document. By the end, I’ve got a sharp headache and the desire to go listen to “Please Mr. Postman”.

C


The Shangri-Las-65!The Shangri-Las-65! (1965)

With better production, better slices of indifference, this opens up the group’s repertory to include wanna-be Motown (“Right Now”) and questionable scatting (“I’m Blue”) alongside the welcome, ever-bombastic portraits of teen romance (“Give Us Your Blessings”). The brittle voices persist, too.

C+

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